16 bit Audio

The vast majority of Podcast producers are not using multi- thousand dollar Neumann mics and/or highly efficient preamps in acoustically treated environments …

When recording (spoken word) audio via mic input, the noise floor is perceived as the level of ambient noise and residual preamp noise – NOT the system noise. Any such mic input will exhibit a higher perceived noise floor with a reduced SNR compared to a much more efficient DI or electronic instrument.

Consider the quantified theoretical dynamic range of 16 bit audio (96 dB). When recording with a mic in a typical environment – your system is incapable of effectively utilizing the full dynamic range of 16 bit audio due to the noted (elevated) perceived noise.

When producing Podcast audio, wide dynamics capabilities are irrelevant. In fact persistent wide dynamics in spoken word audio intended for Internet/Mobile/Podcast distribution will compromise intelligibility.

With all this in mind, what is the advantage of recording 24 bit (spoken word) Podcast audio with a theoretical dynamic range of 144 dB vs.16 bit audio? In my view there is no advantage, especially when proper down conversion techniques such as Dithering are for the most part ignored. An omission as such will compromise the sonic attributes of down converted audio derived from higher resolution source masters.

Are you striving for an efficient Podcast production workflow with excellent fidelity and adequate frequency response? 44.1 kHz (or 48 kHz) • 16 bit audio will be sufficient. Of course there will be optimization variables and requirements such as quality of gear, optimal recording levels, and ample headroom.

Notes:

– If you are producing highly dynamic episodic dramas, fine arts content, or complex narratives with music and sound effects elements – and you prefer to work with 24 bit media … by all means do so.

– When down converting from 24 bit to 16 bit in preparation for distribution, recognize the significance of Dithering.

– Be aware of MP3 codec filtering attributes, inherent frequency response limitations, artifacts, and the consequences of low bit rate encoding.

– Applying a low-pass filter to lossless audio prior to lossy encoding is recommended. Such a roll-off will effectively supply the lossy encoder with managed high frequency activity that is below the codec’s filtering threshold.

-paul.

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Ford Model Agency Embraces New Media …

20080201.gifHow did Ford Models become one of the hottest things on YouTube? The sub heading on the cover of the latest edition of Inc. Magazine states: “A viral video makeover helped it [Ford Agency] boost revenue 140% and land a big private equity deal.”

Interesting …

It’s important to note this agency has been in existence for six decades. In 2002, Katie Ford decided it was time to enter the new media space. A headhunter pointed Katie to John Caplan, formally the president [till 2001] of About.com. His challenge? Could Ford Models profitably enter the new media world, and if so – how?

Currently the agency has produced and distributed 1000+ short format videos that feature an informal style. The segments include Ford models and associates engaged in the informal chatter and interaction that typically takes place backstage during fashion shows, photo shoots, and shopping excursions. The videos have attracted ad agencies and apparel manufacturers, expressing interest as potential sponsors. Ford also received a “significant investment” from Stone Tower Capital, a New York based investment firm that manages $14 billion in assets.

The Ford article documents a specific example of how the agency and their production staff strive not to produce what the subscriber base may classify as a commercial. For example – an apparel manufacturer teamed up with Ford to produce a campaign consisting of four videos. In one segment a few Ford models chatted and one mentioned picking up a pair of jeans available from the apparel creator. It wasn’t an ad, just a reference. A rep. from the apparel company points out “People don’t pay much attention to a brand when it’s the brand doing the talking. What people listen to are neutral influencers, and models are perfect for that.” This campaign, along with a few additional incentives was responsible for $500,000 in register sales in one month.

The article also mentions the videos are viewed by thousands, and the best part of all – they cost as little as $200 to produce.

Welcome to the new media space …

** I highly recommend Inc. Magazine. This month’s edition also features A Complete Guide to Marketing in the Digital Age.

[this is not a paid endorsement]

-paul.

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Java Popup SDK …

for_sdk_post.jpgWhile we are on the subject of software development …

I’ve just completed building a new Software Development Kit that explains how to implement standard Java based site popup windows. I’m referring to the basic method that I am using on this site to display Screencasts via the siteMediaConsole link, located in the upper right sidebar.

The SDK includes two HTML documents that can be customized and edited to suit your needs. I’ve also included a short sample Quicktime movie that can be used as embedded media based on the preexisting code in the files. Simply upload the movie to your server and prepare the files.

The HTML documents require a few simple edits prior to uploading [URL references that will point your browser to these files]. After all is said and done you will be able to test the popup implementation prior to customization.

Lastly I included detailed documentation, as well as a Quick-Start Guide to bring you up to speed in no time.

Disclaimer: This implementation requires basic HTML authoring skills. Apply at your own risk.

Quicktime Java Popup SDK

-paul.

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